Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How advertising shapes the image of gayness in America

From the 5 December 2011 Eureka News Alert

University of Miami School of Communication study: Images of gays in ads now part of the mainstream

CORAL GABLES, FL (December 5, 2011)–The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the presence of gays in American advertising. The media has transformed the stigmatized stereotype of gays into a new, socially desirable image of stylish consumers with high-end taste. This marketing strategy affects the way gays understand themselves and influences the meaning of gayness for society in general, explains Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai, assistant professor of advertising at the University of Miami School of Communication, in a study recently published by the Journal of Advertising.

“The findings illuminate the influential role of advertising in informing and shaping personal identities and highlights the often ignored sociopolitical dimension of advertising, Tsai says. “In other words, when marketers argue that no matter who they target, ‘it’s just business,’ their marketing messages actually have broader, cultural impacts on the minority community.”

 Click here to read the entire Eureka article


December 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Study suggests flexible workplaces promote better health behavior and well-being

Fr0m the 6 December Eureka News Alert

WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2011 — A flexible workplace initiative improved employees’ health behavior and well-being, including a rise in the amount and quality of sleep and better health management, according to a new study by University of Minnesota sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen, which appears in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

“Our study shows that moving from viewing time at the office as a sign of productivity, to emphasizing actual results can create a work environment that fosters healthy behavior and well-being,” says Moen. “This has important policy implications, suggesting that initiatives creating broad access to time flexibility encourage employees to take better care of themselves.”

Using longitudinal data collected from 608 employees of a white-collar organization before and after a flexible workplace initiative was implemented, the study examined changes in health-promoting behaviors and health outcomes among the employees participating in the initiative compared to those who did not participate.

Introduced at the Best Buy headquarters in Richfield, Minn. in 2005, the workplace initiative—dubbed the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE)—redirected the focus of employees and managers towards measurable results and away from when and where work is completed. Under ROWE, employees were allowed to routinely change when and where they worked based on their individual needs and job responsibilities without seeking permission from a manager or even notifying one.



  • Employees participating in the flexible workplace initiative reported getting almost an extra hour (52 minutes) of sleep on nights before work. 


  • Employees participating in the flexible workplace initiative managed their health differently: They were less likely to feel obligated to work when sick and more likely to go to a doctor when necessary, even when busy. 


  • The flexible workplace initiative increased employees’ sense of schedule control and reduced their work-family conflict which, in turn, improved their sleep quality, energy levels, self-reported health, and sense of personal mastery while decreasing employees’ emotional exhaustion and psychological distress. 

“Narrower flexibility policies allow some ‘accommodations’ for family needs, but are less likely to promote employee health and well-being or to be available to all employees,” says Kelly.


December 6, 2011 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , | Leave a comment

How Muscle Fatigue Originates in the Head

From the 5 December 2011 Science Daily news item

Researchers from the University of Zurich have now studied in detail what sportsmen and women know from experience: The head plays a key role in tiring endurance performances. They have discovered a mechanism in the brain that triggers a reduction in muscle performance during tiring activities and ensures that one’s own physiological limits are not exceeded. For the first time, the study demonstrates empirically that muscle fatigue and changes in the interaction between neuronal structures are linked…

“The findings are an important step in discovering the role the brain plays in muscle fatigue. Based on these studies, it won’t just be possible to develop strategies to optimize muscular performance, but also specifically investigate reasons for reduced muscular performance in various diseases.” Prolonged reduced physical performance is a symptom that is frequently observed in daily clinical practice. It can also appear as a side effect of certain medication. However, so-called chronic fatigue syndrome is often diagnosed without any apparent cause.


December 6, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Awareness Of Rare Diseases & Rare Disease Advocacy Day (March 1, 2012)

From the 6 December 2011 article at Medical News Today

“Rare diseases”, by their very definition, occur in no more than 5 people out of every 10,000 inhabitants. Barely noticed by the general public, only around 1,000 of the currently 6,000 or so different rare diseases currently listed on the Internet platform Orphanet are treatable nowadays. “And only a very small number are curable,” says Till Voigtländer from the Clinical Institute of Neurology at the MedUni Vienna and an expert on rare diseases.

80 per cent of rare diseases have a genetic origin, with the remaining 20 per cent being caused by diseases of the immune system, infections or poisoning. Clinically, rare diseases are frequently characterised by a severe, chronic progression of the disease and/or a shortened life expectancy.

So it is all the more important to create awareness of this type of disease, for example at the Austrian Congress on Rare Diseases 2011 at the MedUni Vienna, which is being held on the 2nd and 3rd of December and arranged jointly by Till Voigtländer and Reginald Bittner from the Centre for Anatomy and Cell Biology…..


Helping Rare Disease Patients Find Their Voice

(with information on Rare Disease Advocacy Day, March 1, 2012

Patients often need advocates, and that can be especially true for people with a rare disease, who have unique problems and may have little or no support or available treatment.

To help them become advocates for themselves and others with their disease, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sponsoring its first “FDA Rare Disease Patient Advocacy Day” on March 1, 2012.

This event at FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., commemorates the fifth annual Rare Disease Day, a global campaign to raise awareness of the more than 250 million people worldwide who suffer from rare diseases. Some of these diseases have familiar names—such as cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease—but there are thousands of others whose name is only known to those affected by them.

The Patient Advocacy Day sessions—some of which will also be webcast—are partially designed to increase awareness within the rare disease community of FDA’s roles and responsibilities in the development of medical products for the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of rare diseases or conditions. (Click here disclaimer iconfor the registration form.)

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listening To Music Lights Up The Whole Brain

From the 6 December 2011 Medical News Today article

Finnish researchers have developed a groundbreaking new method that allows to study how the brain processes different aspects of music, such as rhythm, tonality and timbre (sound color) in a realistic listening situation. The study is pioneering in that it for the first time reveals how wide networks in the brain, including areas responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity, are activated during music listening. The new method helps us understand better the complex dynamics of brain networks and the way music affects us….

The researchers found that music listening recruits not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also employs large-scale neural networks. For instance, they discovered that the processing of musical pulse recruits motor areas in the brain, supporting the idea that music and movement are closely intertwined. Limbic areas of the brain, known to be associated with emotions, were found to be involved in rhythm and tonality processing. Processing of timbre was associated with activations in the so-called default mode network, which is assumed to be associated with mind-wandering and creativity.

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Physical Fitness More Important Than Body Weight In Reducing Death Risks

From the 5 December 2011 Medical News Today item

If you maintain or improve your fitness level — even if your body weight has not changed or increased — you can reduce your risk of death, according to research reported inCirculation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a study of 14,345 adult men, mostly white and middle or upper class, researchers found that:

  • Maintaining or improving fitness was associated with a lower death risk even after controlling for Body Mass Index (BMI) change.
  • Every unit of increased fitness (measured as MET, metabolic equivalent of task) over six years was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke-related deaths and a 15 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
  • Becoming less fit was linked to higher death risk, regardless of BMI changes.
  • BMI change was not associated with death risks.



December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Headaches and Complementary Health Practices

Lady rubbing her temples of her head

From the November 2011 Clinical Digest item of NCAAM (US National Center for  Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

Headaches are one of the most common forms of pain. More than 45 million Americans have headaches severe enough to require the help of a health care professional. Headaches occur when pain-sensitive nerve endings around the scalp, in the blood vessels that surround the skull, in the lining around the brain, and in other areas around the head send impulses to the part of the brain that interprets pain signals from the rest of the body. Some headaches are related to tender spots in head, neck, and shoulder muscles.

Researchers are studying treatments for different types of headaches, including a number of complementary health practices. This issue provides information on “what the science says” about the effectiveness and safety of selected complementary health practices for headaches, includingrelaxation trainingbiofeedbackacupuncturetai chicognitive-behavioral therapy,massagespinal manipulation, and dietary supplements.

Read more about what the science says

Jump to: Clinical Guidelines | Scientific Literature | Research Spotlights | Info for Patients


December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Government and insurance companies should have little say in death

Government and insurance companies should have little say in death

From the December 2011 posting by   at

My colleagues who advocate improvement to our healthcare often say, “It’s a non-issue. We all benefit from better care.” Yet the political vehicle that’s to drive the reform has stirred emotions and controversy at almost every turn, leaving us baffled. Why wouldn’t anyone want better coverage, lower cost, and more evidence-based treatments?  These targeted goals improve healthcare, which is why they poll well. When asked for a general impression of the ACA, the average person would likely fall in line with political leanings. But when asked about the specific provisions — no more pre-existing conditions, no more rescission of coverage, 80% of money to be spent on actual care — there is majority support.

This focus on the quality of care has become increasingly easier to advocate, which is why the push for repeal has not taken significant hold.  But one original provision has become game for partisan politics. This proposed provision would allow Medicare to reimburse doctors to counsel on end-of-life issues. This idea initially had bipartisan support. But when it was labeled the “death panel,” lines were drawn in the sand and people began to choose sides. …


Read the entire posting plus comments

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | | Leave a comment

States struggle to update toxic chemical regulation

From the 5 December 2011 article By Jim Malewitz, Stateline Staff Writer at Stateline


Patchwork of policies

In the past decade, at least 18 states have adopted more than 71 chemical policies – largely with bipartisan support. The policies range from compiling comprehensive lists of hazardous chemicals, as in Washington, California, Maine and Minnesota, to more piecemeal prohibition of chemicals used in manufacturing. In October, for instance, California became one of 11 states to ban the use of bisphenol A – a chemical commonly known as BPA that is thought to inhibit children’s development – from use in infant feeding containers. New York recently became the first state to prohibit manufacturers from using a toxic flame retardant called “chlorinated Tris” in children’s goods.

But state environmental officials say such regulations are burdensome to enact, because, like EPA, state agencies have trouble compiling necessary information on each chemical. In Washington State, Sturdevant says “it’s a lot of work for a lot of folks” to research chemical hazards – a process that can take years for just one chemical.

Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, agrees. “States do not have the resources to develop 50 individual state chemical management plans across the country,” he said in a release calling for federal reform.

Furthermore, uneven state-by-state rules can make regulating large, complex bodies of water, such the Great Lakes, especially difficult. Even if some states prove able to limit the toxic chemicals that get into the waters, those same substances may still turn up nearby, coming from states with less strict oversight. Some of the most worrisome chemicals in these waters, state environmental officials say, are bioaccumulative toxics, or PBTs – those that are absorbed by organisms and transferred up the food chain.

The inconsistency of policing substances such as PBTs has led many in the chemical industry to call for more federal oversight. One federal policy would be easier to navigate than a “complex maze of regulations across the country,” says Robert Matthews, who represents the Consumer Specialty Products Association. …

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Psych Care at Risk in Cedars Shutdown

From a 1 December 2011 blog item at the Mental Health Minute

It is beginning…….

Here is an article from NBC Los Angeles that show the beginning of the end.  We should all be paying attention to this event, as the rest of the nation’s health care usually follows California’s lead.  Where will these people go?  How will these people get any help?  This is so sad.

Please go to the site and read this article in full, then come back here and leave me a comment about your thoughts on this topic, won’t you?


Psych Care at Risk in Cedars Shutdown

Cedars Sinai says it will to close most of its mental health services, worrying providers and patients.

By Sharon Bernstein
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 4:21 PM PST

The decision by Cedars Sinai Medical Center to phase out most of its mental health services will rip a hole an already tenuous network of care, rattled providers said Thursday.

The news that within a year the non-profit hospital system would shut down its 51 psychiatric beds and release the 1,800 people who come for outpatient counseling and medication ripped through the region’s mental health community.

Free clinics braced for an onslaught of new patients, and doctors in nearby neighborhoods wondered where they would refer people in need of care.

“It’s devastating news,” said Sheila Forman, who practices in Santa Monica and is also a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Psychological Association. “The idea that a big facility like Cedars Sinai would close its doors is a very big deal. A lot of people are in crisis right now, and they need services.”…

Read the entire blog item


Related item

Trends in Quality of Care and Health Care Spending for Depression Examined in New Study

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Over a 10-year period, spending for Medicaid-enrolled patients with depression increased substantially but only minimal improvements in quality of care were observed, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of theJAMA/Archives journals…

“In summary, during the 10-year period between 1996 and 2005, we found a substantial increase in spending for patients with depression, with minimal improvements in quality of care,” the authors conclude. “Our findings underscore the importance of continued efforts to improve quality of care for individuals with depression, as well as the need to understand the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of using antipsychotics for the treatment of individuals with depression in the general community.”

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

HIV: Reaching Global Goals?

World AIDS Day was December 1.
However AIDS prevention and treatment goes on each day.

Excerpts from a recent post by Amy Croan, MPH on the  achievement goal of a world without AIDS, economic roadblocks, and how one can protect oneself. 

Thirty years of an infectious pandemic, drug research, public health education, and counseling have brought us to the point where we boldly announce the goal of an HIV-free generation in the next three years. This may seem attainable as HIV is a preventable disease. Personal behavior changes will determine the rate of infection. Assuming we will curb behaviors of all people who engage in IV drug use and unprotected sex, especially at a time when economies are struggling, is delusional.

Greece’s troubled economy has seen new infections rise by 52% in 2011, and that rate is expected to increase to 60% by the end of the year. (The US rate of increase is about 7%.) The rate of injected drug use is increasing because people can no longer afford other methods, and there have been heavy cuts to prevention in the form of free needles. …

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

More on Grief and Loss ( Nursing Notes Blog Item)

More on Grief and Loss « Nursing Notes.

Excerpts from this thoughtful compassionate blog item….

December 2, 2011

More on Grief and Loss

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shirley @ 9:08 pm

As I am personally experiencing some of both, I found this article to be helpful.  I hope to get another guest posting but the author after the holiday season is over, but for now I will post this article she sent me.  I recommend her book and hope you will visit her website for more information about her.

I would like to invite other nurses to guest post here on this blog.  I try to make this blog a place to come and find viable and current information that reflects on the nursing profession as a whole, but most importantly, on the nurse at the bedside.  Any information that I can produce to empower that nurse, to educate that nurse, to give that nurse a voice is what I aim for here on this blog.  If your writings fall into that catagory, I would love to have you guest post.



                                                                              By A. Barbara Coyne, Ph.D, MSN


Loss: Ever-Present in Living


“The hour that gives us life begins to take it away”…Seneca, first century philosopher

In the unfolding spiral of living, loss is inevitable and universal. If we heed the wisdom of Seneca, we know that we experience loss from the moment of birth until our own death. And throughout the subsequent twenty centuries, we have known that grief is the natural companion of all loss. Although much of what we know about grief is rooted in post-death grief, we also know that we experience other losses: we are connected to people, animals and things and when any of those connections break, we grieve and mourn. Some of these “other losses” include but are not limited toloss of a job or home, friends who move away or choose to no longer be our friends, chronic but not life-threatening health conditions, divorce, separation and, of course, death (of people or beloved animals)….


December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Are Robots and Dogs Necessary to Enhance our Humanness?

This morning I came across two blog items through the Tag Surfer option at WordPress. It made me ponder if reliance on machines and animals for some needs made us more or less human.  These two blog items centered around situations where people lived alone. When people live more communally is there such a need for robots and pets? Should more of our resources be used to build communities of people rather than places where many folks live alone?

One blog (New Siblings for Health Care Robots) described  emotionally intelligent robots which can read human emotions through facial expressions and body language, sending messages for assistance when needed.  These robots can help older people remain independent through helping them stay connected through family and friends . They can also act as reminders in their daily activities (as taking meds).

The other blog item ( Let’s hear it for Fido friendly cities) made a case for more pet friendly cities because pets helped reduce mental health costs, especially in cases where people lived alone.

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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